Although it is only early November, the days already seem to be shortening at a rapid pace. All across Canada, we are facing a gradual decrease in natural light, due to both shorter possible daylight hours and the gloomy, overcast weather that often comes with autumn. We always know it is coming, yet somehow always catches us off guard! This is why Canadians need to consider how to light their homes. Especially to create the ideal Hygge atmosphere, there are several tips and tricks for how you can fill your home with a warm glow during the dark months.
The shortest day of the year is the Winter Solstice, on December 21. However, most of us are already feeling the effects of the loss of light. This means it will only get worse as we get closer and closer to the Solstice. For most Canadian cities, there is under 9 hours between sunrise and sunset - this is the equivalent of the sun rising at 8 and setting at 6. In our Northern cities, this can drop drastically. Iqaluit experiences only 4 hours and 20 minutes between sunrise and sunset on this day! This combined with the colder weather will drive most of us into the comfort of our homes. Strategic lighting in your home can help you create a comforting, cozy, and warm atmosphere for our partial winter hibernation.
Light is something we take for granted in the developed world. It is one of those things we don’t think about much, until we don’t have access to it. The ability to flip a switch and illuminate the immediate space around you has had some interesting effects on the world. A recent podcast by Planet Money (titled “The History of Light”) brilliantly discussed the economics of light, and how the gradual discovery of cheap light has changed the world. Today, we have the ability not just to have easy, cheap access to light, but we have choices as to how we light a room. As mentioned in “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking, light can be used to create the Hygge atmosphere most of us crave for providing comfort during the winter months.
There are three main components to Hygge-lich lighting:
Warm light bulbs
In your home, lighting can create the feeling in a room, and there are two sources of light: electric and fire-based. Electric lighting is surrounding us, in all of our rooms. The warmth of a lightbulb can greatly affect how a room feels, as well as the location of the light source. Having multiple, smaller sources of light help create a more subdued, glow-like effect that can be very calming.
Softer yellow light is often far more calming than the harsh blue light from fluorescent bulbs. Thankfully, the advances in light bulb technology has produced LED lights that can create this soft glow, while also consuming less energy. For those who are energy conscious, this is a wonderful change from the compact fluorescents that were commonly used in the last 15 years, replacing incandescent light bulbs. Using coloured pendants and tinted ceiling light covers can help soften your lightbulb light, and disperse the light in the room. Stringed lights are great to create a dispersed light source, and also now come in energy-saving LED varieties. Lastly, the use of lamps with warm lamp shades can help create the mood of a room, with light coming from a specific direction in the room, rather than shining overhead. The use and strategic placement of lamps are important for those who live in older houses, where overhead lights are not wired into the home.
Lastly, we can enjoy the glow that comes from fire, in the form of candles, and a fireplace if your home has it, and it’s cold enough to justify it. Candles have the added benefit of creating a sense of calm and comfort, and votives can add an accent colour and create mesmerizing shapes of light. There is something about fire that intrinsically draws humans to it, perhaps because it remains such an important tool in our world. While scented candles may be all the rage at the moment, use plain, unscented candles when you want to have more than 1 candle at a time. If you love scented candles, supplement your collection with unscented ones, and pick 1 scented candle to burn at a time - this prevents an overwhelming and confusing scent in your room while maintaining that calming glow from multiple spots.
Light is so important to us, now that many of us work indoors, and with the seasonally shorter days. Play around with where you place lamps and candles to achieve the best light dispersion in your space. And when you feel like you haven’t seen the sun in weeks, don’t let it get you down, just cozy up at home, and create your glowy, Hygge-filled, happy space.